Is it asking too much for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to state that all Australian should have equal rights before the law?
Despite my ongoing calls for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to decry the efforts of the Orthodox Rabbinate’s opposition to civil legislative reform to allow same-sex couples to marry in Australia, they remain steadfastly silent. I have put a case forward that it is in their best interests to support marriage equality in Australia, especially given they already have issued a statement for respect of GLBT people.
The Executive Director of the ECAJ, Peter Wertheim expresses an interest in the harmony of society in Australia, as reported in the Australian Jewish News :
Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said there was nothing Dr Mohamed could learn from Gaza and its Hamas rulers that could possibly have any legitimate application in Australia.
“His visit and his comments undermine Australia’s efforts to build a peaceful, inclusive and democratic multicultural society,” he said.
I put it to Peter Wertheim that whilst the ECAJ remains silent on marriage equality it shows that the organisation is not genuine about its desire for a wholly inclusive society in Australia, and demonstrates that the ECAJ’s agenda is pro-Zionist and not pro-humanity.
The credibility of the ECAJ, being a body that represents the interests of Australians, is perilously fraught at present. Yet a simple statement claiming that it believes all Australians should have equal rights before the law could easily rectify that.
If Colin Rubenstein of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council wishes to dictate to the ABC who they should not have on Q&A, perhaps he might like to relocate to somewhere like China, North Korea or Iran.
In this week’s Australian Jewish News the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said the ABC should not have invited Ilan Pappe to appear on Q&A:
“The decision by Q&A to frame a program around an individual whose single claim to notoriety is his defamation and demonisation of Israel – a longstanding advocate for Israel’s demise and a man repeatedly caught misusing historical sources to push his openly declared ideological vendetta – is an extraordinary example of contempt for the intelligence of viewers,” Rubenstein said.
I’d like to put it to Colin Rubenstein, and those who concur with his point of view, that the viewers of the ABC, myself included, are intelligent enough to make our own minds up as to whether the ABC should have invited Ilan Pappe to appear on their show and that we don’t need pro-Zionist moral guardians to make our minds up for us.
If Colin Rubenstein wishes to censor the ABC he can take himself off to somewhere like China, North Korea or Iran and open his own state media outlet and not invite Ilan Pappe, over there. In the meantime, in Australia, he should respect the independence of the ABC and the intelligence of its viewers.
The JCCV refused to make a statement when two Israelis were shot in a Tel Aviv youth centre, yet they sent a representative to a September 11 2001 memorial to lay a wreath. Did not enough people die in Tel Aviv on August 1 2009 to satisfy the JCCV?
The United States Consulate General Melbourne in association with the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia held a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of September 11 2001 attacks on Sunday the 11th of September 2011 at the 9/11 Memorial Trees, Kings Domain, Melbourne.
The JCCV had a representative at this solemn occasion:
On August 11 2009, 10 days after the Tel Aviv attack where two Israelis where brutally murdered in a youth centre, I sent out an email asking a number of community leaders to speak up and condemn some anti-gay sentiments being published on a Jewish blog in Melbourne. The response to my email from John Searle, JCCV President, was:
From: John Searle <email@example.com>
Date: 12 August 2009 11:38
Subject: RE: Gay hate is rife in Jewish Australia on AJNwatch (resend)
To: Michael Barnett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Geoffrey Zygier
I was thinking we should have a chat about this over a coffee one day next week. I might even ask Geoffrey to join us. Can you make it one morning at 7.30 or 8.00 in the Caulfield area or does it have to be in the city in which case I would suggest 10.00 or 10.30?
I was thinking Wed next week.
We ended up meeting at John Searle’s house, the evening of Wednesday August 19, 2009. I was accompanied by Colin Krycer, also from Aleph Melbourne. At this meeting I politely asked John Searle to issue a statement from the JCCV condemning the attack in Tel Aviv. His response was that the JCCV doesn’t issue statements for many issues, of which this was but one. At this meeting I handed John Searle a printed copy of this letter that I had written, outlining a draft proposal for an anti-homophobia strategy for the Australian Jewish community. I subsequently sent through an electronic copy of it.
Through consultation, advocacy and working with government, other faith and ethnic communities, the media, service providers and the general public, the JCCV seeks to achieve the following goals:
And in partnership with the State Zionist Council of Victoria:
A more sophisticated public understanding of Israel’s efforts to achieve peace and security
Effective counteraction of misinformation on Israel, the Middle East and the Arab/Israel conflict
A more sophisticated public understanding of Israel in relation to contemporary Jewish identity.
I seem to be getting a number of messages from the JCCV.
They are prepared to make a public statement about the terrible attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001.
They are concerned about issues relating to peace and security in Israel.
They are concerned about contemporary Jewish identity in Israel.
They are not prepared to comment on the horrific death of two young Israelis killed in a youth centre in Tel Aviv.
I am really puzzled by the JCCV’s reluctance to be outspoken on an issue that is core to their agenda. What is so wrong with condemning an attack on young Israelis, given the Zionist and peace-loving nature of the JCCV? The only conclusion I can make, in comparison with their response to September 11, is that perhaps insufficient people were killed on August 1, 2009 in Tel Aviv to warrant a response from the JCCV.
I politely ask the JCCV to reconsider their stance on which international events they make statements on, especially when it comes to contemporary Israeli youth, and issue a belated and sincere statement about the 2009 attack. It’s not asking too much is it?
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issues media releases and letters when significant events occur in Australia and around the world. This week the ECAJ issued one statement on the Japanese tsunami and two on the Itamar shooting, one to the Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem and the other to the Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. So prolific is the ECAJ that going back to the beginning of 2009 one can find approximately 70 media releases on their website.
On August 1 2009 two Israelis were gunned down in a horrific attack in a youth centre in Tel Aviv. Fifteen other people were seriously injured. This was a serious event in Israel that was reported extensively in the Australian Jewish press and by numerous other media outlets globally.
The ECAJ ignored this shooting in Israel. It turned a blind eye to the event and let it pass as if to say the deaths were insignificant and inconsequential. It would appear that the ECAJ is not interested in the deaths of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Israelis.
Now when I see the ECAJ speak out against the brutal deaths of Israelis in this most recent, abominable situation, it sends me the message that they are shamelessly using these deaths to fulfil their Zionist agenda, and could actually care less about the victims or their family.
On behalf of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak national body of the Australian Jewish community, I write to thank you and the Australian government most sincerely for issuing a prompt, public condemnation of the shocking stabbing murders of an Israeli mother, father and three of their children late on Friday night, 11 March 2011, in Itamar, south-east of Nablus.
I commend you and the Australian government for your long standing friendship with Israel and for your firm and principled condemnation of these latest heinous murders of Israeli civilians.
I ask the ECAJ to explain why they were silent when Liz Troubishi and Nir Katz were murdered and fifteen of their peers injured in the most horrific of circumstances, at close range by a masked gunman. Why did these deaths not see the ECAJ issue a statement of condolence to the families and a strong message of outrage and condemnation at the senseless waste of life of the two young Israeli Jews?
The ECAJ appears to be a cold, spineless and heartless organisation, driven by a blinkered Zionist agenda. The ECAJ does not appear to be an organisation that the Australian Jewish community or wider Australian society can be proud of.
This letter appeared in the October 15, 2010 (Melbourne) edition of the Australian Jewish News:
AJDS deserves a slap on the wrist
KUDOS to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) for passing a resolution unanimously condemning in the strongest possible terms the left-wing Australian Jewish Democratic Society’s (AJDS) support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign. It is about time the JCCV made it clear that the AJDS’ extreme views on Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict are not in sync with the mainstream Jewish community.
The argument that Michael Burd puts forward here is extremely troubling. He asserts that because a view held by an organisation is “not in sync with the mainstream Jewish community” it must therefore be worthy of condemnation. What utter nonsense. A minority view, as unacceptable or extreme as many may find it, does not by default equate to a wrong or unworthy view.
The “mainstream Jewish community” has trouble coping with or discussing a lot of concepts, amongst which the AJDS’ view on BDS is not in isolation. One could start with issues such as indifference or opposition to Zionism, intermarriage, Orthodox vs Reform, secular humanism, child abuse, suicide, homosexuality, etcetera, etcetera.
It is imperative that the views and attitudes of the “mainstream Jewish community” be challenged and debated more frequently, in an intellectual and respectful manner. Any community will contain a diversity of opinions on most issues, of which more than one may be valid. Respect for this diversity is crucial for the health of the community. Minorities being shouted down in a parochial and bullying fashion by organisations such as the JCCV is far from respectful or healthy.
The JCCV promotes itself as “the voice of Victorian Jewry“. How remiss of me for taking an inclusive and plural interpretation of their motto. It’s time the JCCV stopped pushing its single agenda view of how they want their community to be. It will never work.